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a 15-story rope made out of bed sheets. a manhunt for the dangerous bank robbers who escaped. and watch this. an eagle swoops down on a family. a christmas tree bursts through the roof of a house. are these real? we find out the answers tonight. good evening. we begin with the promise of action in the wake of tragedy. president obama saying today he will use all the powers of his office to help americans work together to end an epidemic of gun violence in this country. so, what will the president do first? abc's jake tapper was there and questioned the president today. jake? >> reporter: good evening, diane. after years of what critics charge has been not much discussion and even less action on the issue of addressing gun violence, today, president obama said that the tragedy at sandy
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hook changed everything, and now focusing on these issues will be at the forefront of his agenda. the president promised action. >> so, i will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. we won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try. >> reporter: he pledged that his administration would look at the mental health, education, cultural and gun control aspects of this tragedy. and to head the effort, he appointed vice president biden, an author of the 1994 crime bill, which contained a ban on some semiautomatic rifles. the team will report back by next month, the president said. the president hopes to capitalize from this national moment, when eve some pro-gun rights democrats are calling for change. today, he demanded congress take real action right now. ban the sale of high capacity ammunition clips. close the so-called gun show loophole that does not require background checks in many private sales. and ban the sale of what he
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called military-style assault weapons. >> if we're going to change things, it's going to take a wave of americans, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals and yes, gun owners, standing up and saying, "enough," on behalf of our kids. >> reporter: the white house vaguely defines military-style assault weapons as those that can fire hundreds of rounds in minutes. for perspective, this is an m-16 automatic rifle. it's generally illegal to the public. it can fire continuously. with one pull of the trigger, the bullets come nonstop. 30 rounds in two seconds. this gun, an ar-15 style rifle, is legal. and very popular. it looks similar to the m-16 on the outside, but it's semiautomatic. one bullet gets fired per pull of the trigger. so this legal version takes 10
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to 15 seconds to fire off 30 rounds, adding up, potentially, to hundreds of rounds in minutes. and tomorrow, vice president biden will meet with law enforcement officers from all across the country to talk about next steps. we should point out that the fraternal order of police supports reinstating that ban on some semiautomatic rifles, which vice president biden wrote in 1994, but it expired in 2004. diane? >> all right, jake, thank you so much. and no american town, of course, is studying the solutions more urgently than newtown, connecticut, where today, four more of the victims were laid to rest. and we learned that someone is coming out of retirement to help. a woman who knows the children of sandy hook and has agreed to return so that they can heal. abc's linsey davis tells us about her. >> reporter: today, some of the students of sandy hook elementary visited their new school for the first time. police officers showed them their new classrooms and desks, meticulously arranged to resemble the ones they left behind.
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they also met with their new principal, donna page, a familiar face. she was sandy hook's principal for 14 years, retiring in 2010 and returning now to fill the void left when her successor was slain. but as the community tries to move forward, four more funerals today. more than 200 firefighters, many from new york city, stood at attention outside the service for daniel barden, the 7-year-old who wanted to grow up to be one of them. >> as a firefighter, even more as a parent, it's just -- it's very upsetting that, you know, these young kids had their lives taken away from them so early. they had so much more to live for and so much more to give to the world. >> reporter: today, once again, parents doing something we never expect to do for our children, eulogize them. daniel described as "such a light, always smiling, unfailingly polite." in his mother's words, he was "just so good." also laid to rest, 27-year-old teacher victoria soto, who saved so many of her students.
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her sister, jillian, said, "you have been a hero to me for a lot longer than five days. you've been my big sister, the one i always looked up to." also on hand, music legend and family friend, paul simon, who sang one of soto's favorite songs -- "the sound of silence." and, in the midst of all the funerals that took place today, the kids who got a chance to visit their new school were reportedly happy just to get their stuff back. the cafeteria, library and gym all said to be big hits. some semblance of normalcy, diane, in the midst of all this grief. and this memorial here, only continues to grow. >> linsey davis reporting in from newtown tonight, thank you so much. and now we turn to other news. the millions of travelers beginning to migrate across this country for the holidays tonight. just as a giant storm is marching across america. take a look. blizzard warnings in nine states. the highways are slick, the airports are canceling flights,
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threatening to set off that domino effect in airports across the country. abc's meteorologist ginger zee is in the storm tonight. >> reporter: this may be a preview of your holiday travel -- frustration. that's because in denver, the wild winds are sending snow sideways tonight. in texas, the storms kicked up enormous dust storms that caused 16 accidents and shut down one highway. it's all part of a monster winter storm, hitting right as holiday travelers are starting to move. at the denver international airport late today, plows on the runways, but they weren't able to keep up. lines building as dozens of flights were canceled. >> i'm coming home from college, so, i'm just trying to get back home. >> one cancellation, two delays, missed one plane by three minutes. >> reporter: and on the roads, conditions are deteriorating, and fast. look at this. in monument, colorado, there were near whiteout conditions on the highway. while 50 cars piled up on the
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slick roads in northern california. >> we're not certain whether or not a small snowstorm or hailstorm precipitated this ice formation. >> reporter: in the next 48 hours, more than a foot of snow will fall from central iowa through central wisconsin. snow and winds impacting cities like des moines, southern parts of minneapolis and eventually chicago. and it doesn't stop there. in the south, damaging winds, hail and isolated tornadoes are possible tonight into tomorrow. the snow is just starting to come down here in des moines, and from here, to madison, wisconsin, it's incredible to think that in the next 24 hours, it will be a foot or more. the wind gusts of 50 miles an hour will make drifts three to five feet, just as all these holiday travelers hit the road. diane? >> all right, ginger zee reporting in from the snow. and now tonight, we have some answers to the question asked so often. could anything have prevented the deaths of those americans in benghazi, libya? a stinging report has been
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released, and members of secretary of state hillary clinton's team have begun to resign. abc's senior foreign affairs correspondent martha raddatz has the truth behind the attack. >> reporter: we know how horrible the attack was, how heroic the fight to save lives, how heavy the loss. but today, with this searing report, we now know what could have been done to try to prevent it. the independent review cited failure after failure. security in benghazi, it said, was "grossly inadequate," "was not a high priority" in washington where "repeated requests" for more security went unheeded. >> frankly, the state department had not given benghazi the security, both physical and personnel resources, it needed. >> reporter: and today, three state department officials paid the price. resigning under pressure, eric boswell, assistant secretary for diplomatic security. his deputy, charlene lamb,
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responsible for embassy security. and an official from near east affairs. secretary hillary clinton responded to the report by adopting every one of the 29 recommendations, including more marine guards and asking for more than a billion dollars to increase security worldwide. but that has not silenced her critics. clinton is recovering from a serious concussion, after she fainted from the effects of a stomach virus. she cancelled her scheduled testimony about the report tomorrow, but a former u.n. ambassador is implying she is faking it. >> when you don't want to go to a meeting or conference or event, you have a diplomatic illness. and this is a diplomatic illness to beat the band. >> reporter: the state department was furious about that statement today and strongly denied it. and i can tell you, from all accounts, diane, the secretary, indeed, has a serious concussion and remains at home. >> and will she eventually testify, martha?
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>> reporter: well, a senior republican aide on capitol hill today told abc news that she will be testifying by mid-january. there is a hearing tomorrow and her deputies will be testifying, but she will be on the hill by mid-january. >> all right, martha raddatz reporting in from washington. and we have a passing to note tonight. you may know the name robert bork. an icon to conservatives. his bruising and failed supreme court confirmation made him a household name. he has died at the age of 85. he was the yale professor nominated by president reagan, famously pummeled by democratic senator ted kennedy. a reminder of another fiercely partisan time, 25 years ago. and still ahead on "world news," our abc news search for solutions. are more guns in schools the answer? the real push to arm teachers tonight.
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after the tragedy at sandy hook. and here's abc's alex perez. >> reporter: in tiny wichita falls, texas, some students say there's one thing that makes them feel safer. their teachers are armed. >> i like it, because it kind of makes me feel safer. >> reporter: since 2007, the harold school district allows teachers with concealed handgun licenses to carry guns in the classroom. a move the superintendant is convinced will prevent a school shooting here. >> my goal is if someone tries to come in and hurt my little ones, that -- that they're killed. >> reporter: at edison high school in tulsa, oklahoma, armed guards patrol the hallways. >> i would rather have it and never have to use it than not have it and run into a situation where i couldn't do my job fully. >> reporter: about 28,300 schools have armed security staff on campus, according to the national center for education statistics. 20% of those primary schools, 54%, middle schools, 68% of
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those high schools have armed security. and since the tragedy at sandy hook, lawmakers across the country now pushing a new solution. to arm teachers in classrooms with guns. >> you should be able to carry your handgun anywhere in this state. >> i wish to god she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up. >> reporter: gun advocates point to a case in 1997, when an armed vice principal at a high school in mississippi stopped a 16-year-old gunman who had already shot and killed two students. but at a school in suburban chicago, where the focus is high tech security, but no guns, fourth grade teacher dara sacher says training teachers to be sharpshooters and expecting them to be at the right place at the right time is unrealistic. >> i wouldn't feel comfortable being armed. i think it would be better to keep the guns out of school rather than arm teachers. >> reporter: bill bond, principal at heath high school
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in kentucky when a gunman killed two students in 1997, believes more guns will create more problems. >> if i contest him with a gun, he still had five loaded guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. i think he might have just continued on. >> reporter: in this season in which people are desperate to do something, in tennessee, one marine overcome with emotion after sandy hook, decided to do something on his own. he stands guard outside his daughter's school in nashville, praying his uniform will be enough to deter the unthinkable. >> you are able and capable of doing something, you have the responsibility to act. >> reporter: only one goal, he says, to be a tiny sense of hope after a flood of despair. alex perez, abc news, chicago. >> and be sure to watch "nightline" tonight. the story of a man who was shot four times during the virginia tech massacre and survived. and tonight, he will take you inside the world of gun shows. and we have a developing story we're also watching in the
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northeast tonight. part of a huge freeway was shut down today because of a fiery crash that led to a massive pileup. this was the chaotic scene on long island, new york, today. the expressway cluttered with ambulances. two dozen cars strewn about. it's believed the crash was caused by a tractor trailer striking other vehicles, which burst into flames. one person has died. 18 others were taken to the hospital to be treated. and coming up here, a rope made of bed sheets. two inmates use them to break out of prison, from 17 stories high. how did they do it? [ male announcer ] introducing centrum flavor burst adult multivitamins...
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[ male announcer ] campbell's green bean casserole. it's amazing what soup can do and our "instant index" tonight begins with a dangerous escape from prison. look closely at this picture. bed sheets tied together and used as a kind of rope by two convicted bank robbers, breaking out of a correctional facility in chicago. they even fashioned a makeshift harness, which worked, though one inmate weighed nearly 200 pounds. they managed to lower themselves down 17 stories, then run. tonight, a manhunt under way, as officials say they are considered armed and dangerous. and also in the index, "time magazine's" person of the year is president obama. they called him the architect of a new america, showing candid images of the president, pretending to be caught by a tiny superhero at the white house. and also watching his daughter sasha rehearse for "the
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nutcracker" while writing a speech for the families of newtown. the president now joins an elite group of double winners. churchill, roosevelt and george w. bush. and we always want to hear what captures your imagination every day. so, tweet me your thoughts for the "instant index," @dianesawyer. and a program note. we just told you about "time's" man of the year, but tonight, katie couric counts down the moments of the year, from olympic heroes to every day heroes. again, it's coming up tonight, "the year with katie couric." 9:30 eastern, 8:30 central time. and next here, did you see this video? it was everywhere today. an eagle swoops in, stuns a family. is it true or not? are there clues? we give you the answer, next. suddenly, she does something unexpected and you see the woman you fell in love with. she's everything to you. but your erectile dysfunction -
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and finally tonight, we live in a world of astonishing videos. it's almost impossible for most of us to know if they're true. and did you see that one today? the eagle swooping down on the family? well, what if there were clues for all of us right in plain sight? here's abc's sharyn alfonsi. >> reporter: millions of us watched it. a golden eagle swoops in and picks up a toddler. >> oh, [ bleep ]. >> reporter: the internet video leaving us all wondering, is that real? today, word that it is an internet hoax. the work of animation students in montreal. part of a school project. and while most of us saw an unbelievable but visually convincing video, some animators across the country were quick to yell "fake." so, we wanted to know what they
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saw that we didn't? well, watch again. clue number one, the eagle's wings. all of a sudden, they disappear mid-flight. watch. here, and then gone. clue number two. the eagle's shadow. it appears out of nowhere. watch again. students from the school produce internet hoaxes every year. remember this escaped penguin? that was them. these miniature flying cars too. they're proud of their work, showing us how they made this little girl float away. picking her up behind a green screen. which could be how they made this toddler take flight. and then, there's clue number three. that golden eagle is not a golden eagle. in fact, bird experts say, it's not the kind of bird that would be found anywhere in north america. proving to those students, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but if you want to fool all the people, you might need a few more classes. sharyn alfonsi, abc news, new york. >> and we just can't resist one more video tonight. this one, from seattle. since a lot of people are doing double takes at the jack and the
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bean stalk christmas tree, so big it burst through the roof of a house. or not. the homeowner is an architect. he chopped off the top of a tree, attached it to plywood, bolted the whole thing to his roof for a holly jolly joke for santa, when he lands on the roof next week. good night, everyone. tonight, team coverage of another south bay gun scare,
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closing a freeway today after a government car was hit by gunfire. >> shots fire ntd bay vu. a neighborhood is rattled by bullets as residents cry out for answer autos an assault in ben gazy. an expert offers a perspective on the death of a bay area diplomat and security lapse in libya. >> plus, abc 7 news follows up with a crime crime vim who came out of a coma for thanksgiving. now home for christmas. from sky 7 hd here is the bullet-riddled car of a south bay marine recruiter the apparent target of a shooting today on a busy south bay freeway. good evening. >> i'm larry beil. that marine is talking with investigators now as their search for answers moves from a south bay freeway shut down more than an hour to the crime victim, himself.
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the shooting took place on southbound lanes of highway 85 in cupertino. we are live at the sheriff's substation and david lieu gee at the very spot where the marine managed to pull off the highway safely. david, let's start with you. >> there is no question most of us would have panicked and lost control of the vehicle if it had been hit by gunfire. in this case, the victim a marine corps officer knew what to do. he didn't lose his cool, he exited the freeway and was able to pull into a parking lot at a local nursery. video should take him from sky 7 shows three bullet holes in the left rear passenger side of the government-issued pontiac with two shattered windows. here, the victim called 911 to report the shooting, triggering a massive response by california patrol and by the santa clara county sheriff's office. southbound lanes of highway 85
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